Monday, 20 May 2013

Gluten Free Goodness @ The Hummingbird Bakery -- Making Coeliac Disease Bearable!

Red Velvet 'Made Without' Cupcake @ Hummingbird Bakery
Update: I no longer eat Hummingbird Bakery's 'Made Without' range because the cakes are not guaranteed to be gluten free  (this is a disclaimer many establishments offering 'made without'  or 'gluten free' food stand by) and I was glutened on a later occasion after eating one. It's a real shame. 

First of all, let me tell you this: I experience feelings of unadulterated joy any time that I discover gluten-free food products which don't taste like they're made of cement. For example, the first time I squeezed Genius bread in Tesco and the dough actually bounced back with the vitality and spring of a loaf full of gluten, I stared at my mum with glistening eyes, mouthing the words "I can't believe it's gluten-free". So you can imagine the hysteria that ensued when I tried my first 'Made Without' Hummingbird Bakery cupcake on Portobello Road in London's Notting Hill. 

I walked out of the tiny little shop with my tiny little box and it's tiny little handle, and it wasn't until I got home to Reading about two hours later that I took my first bite. The combination of the sweet but not-too-much-so butter and cream cheese frosting, alongside the perfectly moist and springy sponge base sent me into a teary-eyed frenzy of amazement. Could this really be gluten-free? Could it? Update: Apparently not! 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Birthday Box

I received this fantastic little box of beauty surprises from my friend Natalie who shares my love of all things beauty~ [check out her blog here]. She is definitely my biggest enabler when it comes to buying things; I ended up spending money that I don't have at a Bobbi Brown event because of her (yes, all her fault, nothing to do with me and my lack of self-restraint), but that's another story entirely. It was so lovely to receive this after the very strange and difficult couple of weeks I've been having. 

Review: Inglot Eyeshadows

It was through the grapevine that I first heard good things about Inglot, the affordable make-up brand developed by chemist Wojtek Inglot. Bloggers before me have praised the brand for its beautiful packaging and the great quality products at prices which aren't going to make you feel the nauseating, and all-too-common, Buyer's Remorse™. I didn't feel sick at all when I left Inglot with five shadows (£4.50 each) and a palette (£7) to store them in. Not one little bit. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a good sign. 

Left to right: Matte 328; Matte Square 357; Matte Square 327; AMC Shine 21; Pearl 421. Total £30
The London Westfield store is quite minimalist with a counter in the centre--if I remember correctly--entirely dedicated to eyeshadows. On entering, you grab a magnetic slab which you fill with products of your choice as you wander around. Despite how practical this sounds and feels at first, I couldn't help but feel slightly concerned about the logistics of the whole process: now, providing that you get to the product first, you're good to go; if, however, somebody has already picked the product up, there's a chance that you may never have known it was there for the duration of their/your stay in the store. Somebody stop me if I'm missing something here, but I feel that the more popular the brand becomes, and thus the  busier the store, something's going to have to give.

As usual, I decided to pick neutral colours which I knew I could turn to no matter the occasion. Matte 328 is a great highlight/base colour for me; Matte Square 357 is also a good base colour or a crease colour if I want something very subtle; Matte Square 327 is a great crease colour for me,  while AMC Shine 21 and Pearl 421 are good for when I want something a little more interesting.

The colour pay off from each of these shadows is very impressive. My swatches below don't really do the products much justice, but I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that the Inglot eyeshadows that I've tried could probably hold their own against higher-end brands like MAC and Bobbi Brown. I mean, I'm sat here comparing Matte Square 357 to Bobbi Brown's Cocoa, and if I didn't know any better I would say that both products were from the same brand.  If that's not recommendation enough, I don't know what is.

Inglot AMC Shine 21
Left to right: Matte 328; Matte Square 357; Matte Square 327; AMC Shine 21; Pearl 421.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

NEW HAIR: Mid-Length, Subtle A-Line Bob

It was last Saturday when I sat in Birmingham City Centre's Toni&Guy, shouting "JUST DO IT BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND", whilst bracing myself for the shortest haircut I've ever had. I felt a nauseating mixture of excitement and fear as Lolly (brap brap) cut off inch after inch of my hair.

It was the backlash from my mum that I feared the most. As a perpetually short-haired woman, she has this thing where she lives vicariously through my hair, and I knew this would be devastated if I lost more than an inch at the hairdressers. I did it anyway. And do you know what the worst thing is? It was her birthday.

But hang on. PLOT TWIST. Turns out that rather than taking away the life that she gave me, SHE ACTUALLY QUITE LIKED IT. As do I. It feels like a new me. I feel like I'm "supposed" to have short hair... or something. The only thing is, I'm not sure sure what to do with it half the time (styling tips for mid-length hair, anyone?) and I've heard that styles like this are pretty hard to maintain. 

Hopefully I won't end up regretting the pants off of this decision. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Nail Polish Shopping in Hong Kong: Sellotape for Swatches

Whilst in Hong Kong I stumbled upon a really cute cosmetics brand called Tonymoly and ended up in one of their stores on Victoria Peak. I'm not a fan of being 'bothered' whilst I'm shopping, but about 30 seconds into browsing nail polish, a saleswoman came up to me and slapped a strip of clear sticky tape on the back of my hand.

WTF, right? ...But wait.

She then proceeded to ask me which colours I liked and started SWATCHING THEM ON THE TAPE. Such a simple idea, and yet so fantastic. Many times I've bought a nail polish thinking it was something it turned out not to be. Boots, Superdrug, John Lewis, Debenhams... Where are my strips of tape?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Hong Kong

Visiting Hong Kong was one of the most amazing, insightful and cultural experience that I've ever had in my life.

On the first night, I cried myself to sleep wondering how I would make it through the next two weeks; I realised quite quickly that I was suffering from culture shock. Hong Kong is an interesting place in that one moment you feel as though you are in London, and then next, somewhere where very far away from that, and very different. 

I stayed in Heung Fa Cheun with Jon's family for the duration of the trip. Everyday we did something different. We caught the ferry to Cheung Chau island and after half an hour of feeling more nauseous than ever before in my life we spent a day exploring and eating a lot of fish balls. We went to Macau, watched the BRILLIANT House of Dancing Water show and stayed the night in the incredible Hard Rock Hotel after wondering around the casinos.
Blake Pier in Stanley

On the 3rd or 4th day I went with Jonathan and his family to a cemetery on top of a hill at the border of China, to pay worship to their ancestors as part of the Chung Yeung Festival. I felt incredibly privileged to be there with them, but also slightly like I shouldn't have been. It's something that I'll remember forever, though: eating boiled goose eggs and pork on the edge of a mountain while people all around us burned paper replications of worldly goods for the dead.

Strolling through the beautiful Stanley, catching the Peak Tram to the highest point in the city, and bustling and haggling my way through the markets in Mong Kok are also things I will never forget. I may have purchased a replica designer handbag which I still feel guilty about now. I was literally grabbed by a stall owner wanting me to buy her embroidered product. And I did. I ate a lot of interesting food, often saw  the fried faces of various poultry items staring up at me while I ate, and muttered expletives at my coeliac disease while eating things that I knew were filled to the brim with gluten. Afterall... YOLO.* 

* I began using this for humorous/satirical effect, but I'm finding that it's actually becoming an embarrassingly permanent fixture in my vocabulary. 
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